But people who have gone looking, whose Tocquevillian rue about what modernity homogenizes and grinds away has sent them questing for alternatives, often find in the South scattered elements of the case against progress that they’re searching for. Some of these elements are intellectual — the line running back from Wendell Berry through the Southern Agrarians to Jefferson, for instance, is one of the strongest counter-narratives available to any American dissatisfied with liberal and libertarian visions of human flourishing today. (I didn’t say it was all that strong, mind you.) Others are those features of Southern culture that can make the rest of America seem dull or flat or hollowed-out by comparison: The literature and poetry, the music in all its varied forms, the religious and metaphysical horizons, the folkways and the manners, the food (the food, the food), everything about Louisiana, and the enduring martial culture on which the wider nation’s military has long relied (and still relies today).
Read more by Ross Douthat at The New York Times